The State Health Department wasted at least $6.2 million in public funds through the Medicaid program by overpaying transportation companies even though the contractors were not eligible for reimbursement, a new state audit has found.
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s auditors found the health department contracted with two companies for non-emergency transportation statewide, including Medical Answering Services of Syracuse, which provides transportation in Western New York.
“Our auditors found that with two companies across the state, they were paying for certain individuals who were not eligible for those services and that cost the state several million dollars,” said Mark Johnson, a spokesman for the comptroller’s office.
State health officials acknowledged the oversights and said they have already taken corrective measures to save at least $7.6 million over the next five years.
“Contrary to the Comptroller’s claims, the overage issue has already been addressed by the Department of Health,” spokeswoman Jill Montag said in a prepared statement. “As the auditors themselves noted, the Department promptly implemented corrective actions in January to exclude these coverage groups from the monthly recipient counts, which is estimated to save $7.6 million over the next five years. Regarding the Comptroller’s other comments, the Department will continue to work with OMIG to take any corrective measures and make recoveries where appropriate.”
Nationally, more than $50 billion is paid into Medicaid each year, auditors said, and the program is regularly audited by DiNapoli’s office.
“We find numerous problems with the way the system is run and and we find overbillings and a lot of waste and abuse in the system,” Johnson said. “It’s a huge system and there are ways that errors can be made.”
A manager for Medical Answering Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.